Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Northern Ireland peace agreement flawed and elitist, says historian

Good Friday Agreement. 'Yes' celebration. John Hume (SDLP), Bono (U2), David Trimble (UUP) and Tim Wheeler (Ash). 19/5/1998

The Good Friday Agreement is "flawed and elitist" but will not be derailed by the forthcoming 1916 commemorations or the threat from dissidents, according to historian Professor Paul Bew.

The Queen's University academic told the 20th annual Burren Law School in Co Clare that the Agreement "ended the Cold War" within the Island of Ireland.

"The Good Friday Agreement was an elitist, top down process which explains its inadequacies but also explains why it continues to work," said Prof Bew. "This (the Agreement) is a stable process... it is perfectly clear what the rules of the game are."

He added that the weakness of the Agreement was that it didn't reflect an "upward thrust" from the people in Northern Ireland.

Prof Bew, who was an "informal adviser" to David Trimble, added: "That's why we still have peace walls." He also said that the 2008 financial crisis was the first serious Irish disaster that could not plausibly be blamed on the British.

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